Interview: The Download Tapes – Harper “I want to headline Download.”

At just 12 Harper is the youngest person to ever perform at Download. It’s also her debut gig. And she took it all in her stride producing a memorable performance that bodes well for the future. Gary Trueman chatted to her after her set to talk about her rise in music, being helped by Melissa Cross and what her school friends make of it all.

So, how was it today?

“Absolutely amazing. To be honest I was so nervous to go stage. But when I went on I was like, yeah, hmmm, but then when the music stated coming in and the crowd started to join in and I’m like, OK! I got more hyped up and the adrenalin was flowing and then it was amazing.”

Did you find that once you got into it, into your zone, you almost forgot they were there?

“Yes.  I was into it and I have a technique where I look at one person. I don’t mean it in a mean way, but scream at them and look right in their eyes.”

So you’re making it personal for someone?

“Yep I’m making it personal, and it’s better than looking at everyone.”

So it started for you with a Spiritbox cover and the America’s Got Talent. Are Spiritbox your favourite band? And they got involved didn’t they?

“Yes they are. She (Courtney LaPlante, Spiritbox singer) asked me if I wanted to come on stage with her for Holy Roller. I said hell yes and I went on and then it went on YouTube and started blowing up. Then they asked me to go on The Voice but I wasn’t able to do it and then I did America’s Got Talent, and now Download.”

Is this the first time you’ve been properly on stage doing a set of your own?

“Yes it is.”

So your inaugural gig is Download Festival?

“Yep, my first ever gig is Download Festival”

Amazing! So you’re starting big and you’re going to get bigger is that the aim?

“Yes I’m starting big then I’m going to go to America, and it’s going to get bigger every time.”

You are quite young, you’re still at school.  So how does that work? Are you getting special permission to do things like this? Have you still got to go to class as normal?

“I do go to class as normal but I don’t have to go to after hours at school because I need to practice for stuff like Download.”

What do your school friends think of all this? Are they supportive or not so much?

“Gosh, some of them are bitchy, but some of them are nice and some of them don’t even know. Some are supportive but don’t really care to be honest. They don’t mean it in a bad way though.”

Are there any other people at your school into the same music?

“One or two but not many, a lot are….. chavy.”

You’ve been working with vocal teacher Melissa Cross. What’s she like?

“She’s so sweet. I love her so much. She’s definitely my favourite music teacher. She’s so good. I used to get headaches when I screamed and I don’t get them any more. She helps me warm up before I shout, so today I did it and it was amazing.”

So she’s taught you how to keep your voice healthy and to keep yourself healthy?

“Yes, so I don’t die!”

What has she specifically taught you to do. Is it breathing right on stage or like you already said warming up?

“A bit of both. Like breathing on stage because I was getting headaches through not breathing properly. She’s taught me exercises, breathing in, and then out, big blows.

What about diet. Is there anything you can’t eat or drink because it can affect how you project your voice?  Like some singers avoid dairy.

“I can’t have that anyway. I love it and let’s face it everything is made out of milk. I love my ice cream, I’m like I don’t care about the consequences, I want my dairy. Mum will try to take it away from me and I’ll say noooooo!”

Other than Spiritbox who else do you like.

“Alpha Wolf, definitely. Bring Me The Horizon.”

Do you like Bring Me The Horizon’s old stuff or their new stuff?


Is there anybody you like that might surprise people?

“I like Melanie Martinez. Her stuff is really catchy. I listened to her when I was like seven, eight, nine, then I stopped, and now I listen to her again. I know the words to all her songs.”

We know you want to be bigger and a huge star. Is there anywhere you’ve set your sights on you’d love to play in the future?

“I want to headline Download.”

Did you know Download has never had a female artist headline yet? Are you going to be the first?

“The youngest and the first girl to headline. Yes! They’ve never had a female headliner! I’m going to have a talk with the Download guy.” (Sorry Andy, not sorry)

Have you got a survival tip for people at a festival.

“Wear wellies and don’t wear white.”

Harper – Facebook

Interview And Photos By Gary Trueman